The 2002-2003 season of the University Theatre at The University of Texas-Pan American happens to coincide with three major anniversaries - the institution's 75th anniversary, the 70th anniversary of theater at UTPA and 30 seasons of Pan American Summer Stock (PASS) performances.
To celebrate, the theatre staff has chosen the seven-play season at the Albert Jeffers Theatre in the Communication Arts and Sciences Building as a happy one. This season will feature no brooding tragedies or angst-ridden dramas.
PASS starts off June 20-23 with a play dubbed by John Simon as the funniest play of the 20th century, Alan Ayckbourn's "Comic Potential."
Next is "Lost in Yonkers" by Neil Simon from June 27-30. "Latina" by Milcha Sanchez Scott, which runs July 4-7, closes out the PASS series.
The theatre at UTPA was not actually called the University Theatre until 1973 or 1974, but it flourished from the early 1930s under the direction of Ruth Owings Blalock.
To mark the event and honor Owings, Kate Ellis will direct "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare-Abridged," as Shakespeare was Owings' favorite playwright. This play is a quick compilation of all the famous moments from all his plays enacted by four actors in 90 minutes. The second act runs Oct. 9-13 and is a speedy version of "Hamlet" done in less than 30 minutes.
The University Theatre exists primarily to serve the needs of the students who major in the field and to educate the college student audience in dramatic literature. Hence, the second fall production, Nov. 20-24, is "A Glass of Water" by Eugene Scribe, the "inventor" of the well-made play.
In 1927, when the University opened, "Good News" made its debut on Broadway. So for the 50th, and now the 75th, anniversary of UTPA the theatre is producing the play, a rollicking musical comedy.
Some older audience members will remember the June Allison-Van Johnson film version, which featured the dance craze of the 1920s, "The Varsity Drag." This show runs Feb. 26 through March 2.
The final event of the celebration season is a play especially commissioned by the University Theatre to be written for the 75th anniversary and partially funded by the 75th anniversary committee. It is the world premiere of a play by Scott, who served as the first Maryalice Shary-Shivers visiting professor here in spring 2001, and runs from April 30 to May 4.
For more information, contact the University Theatre at 956/381-3581.